Gretchen Lyons

Gretchen Lyons

1921 - 2006

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Obituary of Gretchen Lyons

85, born January 17, 1921 in Drummond, Idaho and passed away June 16, 2006 in Federal Way, Washington. Gretchen lived in Kent for 60 plus years and worked 34 years as a Records Keeper at The Boeing Co. where she retired in 1986. She was a long-time member of Kent United Methodist Church and her hobbies included gardening and crocheting. Gretchen is survived by her son, William (Anita) H. Lyons of Kent, WA; 2 daughters, Shirley (Ralph) E. Woll of Ridgefield, WA, Virginia D. Roe of Maple Valley, WA; 6 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren; and 1 great-great grandchild. Preceded in death by her husband of 41 years Berl in 1981 and son Richard in 1974. Graveside service to be held 1:00 PM Tuesday June 20, 2006 at Hillcrest Burial Park, 1005 Reiten Rd, Kent, WA. Arrangements by Edwards Memorial Center 253-566-1008 BIOGRAPHY Gretchen Lyons was born on January 17, 1921 in Drummond, Idaho. She was the third of 10 children born to Bert R. Zimmerman and Florence Whittemore Zimmerman. Growing up in Ashton, she had 3 sisters and 2 brothers who lived beyond infancy. The family lived through the Great Depression and worked hard to provide for the children. They picked potatoes and other farm crops. Gretchen attended Ashton HS. During the summers, she worked at West Yellowstone lodge. She graduated in 1939. Just after her graduation, she met Berl Howard Lyons (3/27/1906-10/6/1981) who came to her town working in the traveling carnival. At 14, he left the family farm in Iowa joined the carnival. He ran the Ferris Wheel for his uncle’s carnival. Gretchen was 19 and Berl was 32. Her mother being a strict Mother and a strong Methodist could see no good coming from this man and her daughter. After the carnival left town, they corresponded with many love letters. Gretchen and Berl were married several weeks later in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on September 25, 1940. Soon Berl began working as a long haul truck driver. Their first son, William was born in (2/14) 1941. Two years later their first daughter Shirley was born in (6/8) 1943. Because Berl was on the road so much, the children didn’t recognize him when he came home. Berl and Gretchen moved to Seattle where he went to work for The Boeing Company as a security guard. Their third child Virginia was born in Seattle in (12/24) 1946. In 1949, Gretchen went to work at the Boeing Company in the janitorial service. Her German background provided her industrious work ethic that she shared with her children. The family lived in Rainier Beach and on Beacon Hill. Their fourth child was born in Seattle in (1/5) 1958. The family moved to the Kent Valley. Gretchen and Berl became members of the Kent (United) Methodist church. Even though she worked, Gretchen was a caring mother to her children and homemaker for her husband. She worked nights and Berl worked days so that one of them was always at home for the children. Berl’s dry Irish humor and character provided strength and direction for the family. He loved Gretchen and would become very upset when any of the children would act up and cause problems for their mother. After Billy graduated from Kent HS, he enlisted in the US Army and became a Helicopter Pilot during the Vietnam War. Shirley and Virginia were married in the Kent Methodist Church. In 1968, Berl had a heart attack and had open-heart surgery. There were some complications and Berl retired. Gretchen learned to drive and received her first driving license at the age of 55. Gretchen loved her house and enjoyed gardening. She had a green thumb and her flowers were beautiful and enjoyed by everyone. Their first grandchild, Brian was born in 1963 and their first granddaughter Jackie was born in 1967. It was said that Gretchen bought many pink dresses for her granddaughter. Bill has 2 children, Yvette and “Little” Billy. Virginia has 2 children, Jennifer and David. She was always generous with all of her grandchildren. There were many family gatherings with her brothers and sisters and all the children and grandchildren. Gretchen loved to cook. She was famous for her cinnamon rolls. She enjoyed handcrafts and loved to crochet. Richard was very active in Kent HS. He was popular and played sports. He played on the varsity basketball team. During a game in 1974, he went up to make a basket, and suffered a fatal heart attack and died suddenly at the age of 16. When Berl needed constant care for his extensive health problems, he was confined to a nursing home for 3 years. He died peacefully in 1981 at the age of 73. Gretchen was a grandmother who loved her grandchildren just like her own children. When Shirley lived in Alaska, Jackie lived with her grandmother during her senior year in HS, graduated from Kent HS in 1985, and went to Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Gretchen helped her grandson Billy with his schoolwork and was the sounding board for him during some of the rough times of his early life. Gretchen worked in the records keeping units and retired from The Boeing Company in 1983 after 34 years. When she retired, she bought her black convertible. She moved into a condo but soon made her home in Senior Housing (SHAG) in Kent. She lived there for nearly 15 years. She made many friends among her neighbors. She was the social butterfly. She was the life of the party. She cared for the containers of flowers for the whole building. She was a Mariners nut and enjoyed the games. She watched Sonics and the Seahawks. She was a political junkie and a staunch Republican. She watched the news and was well informed about the issues and situations of her world. Each Sunday she watched her favorite TV preacher and did not want to be disturbed. She said, “Don’t call until while I’m in my church service.” Gretchen was meticulous in her appearance and took great pride in her clothing and accessories. Her hair was beautifully styled. She was a character, funny, and generous with her spirit and gifts for her family. She loved Christmas and giving gifts. She had a zest for life. Five years ago, Gretchen had open-heart surgery. A short time later, she began having other health problems. Her children and grandchildren watched over her and visited her often. Jennifer and David were devoted to their grandmother and spent a lot of time with her. Her family was the focus of her life. She loved her children, her 6 grandchildren, her 5 great-grandchildren, and her first great-great-grandchild Lincoln who is 7 weeks old. Her life came to a peaceful ending at the Avalon Care Center in Federal Way in the early morning hours of Friday, June 16, 2006. Her family had been there to surround her with their love and comfort. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers and sisters, Her son Richard, and her beloved husband Berl. Gretchen will be loved and remembered by her son Bill and his wife Anita by her daughter Shirley and her husband Ralph Woll by her daughter Virginia by her 6 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, and Lincoln her great-great grandchild. Her many relatives, nieces and nephews, and Friends and neighbors.
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